2009 Candlelight Vigil
By Craig W. Floyd, NLEOMF Chairman & CEO, May 13, 2009
Last night, at one of the many wonderful tribute events held during National Police Week, a friend and former FBI Special Agent, Brad Brekke, looked around the room filled with law enforcement professionals, survivors and citizen supporters, and said, "The people here care about other people." Immediately, my mind raced to all of the special people we are honoring tonight and all who have gathered to remember.
Gainesville, Florida, Police Officer Scott Baird was helping to remove debris from the roadway during the early morning hours of February 12, 2001, when he was struck and killed. Shortly before Scott's tragic death, his mother, Kelly Gaudet (Go-day), went on a ride-along with her son. She related to us how proud she was of her son and what he did. She was so inspired, in fact, that shortly after Scott's death, she pursued her own lifelong dream to become a police officer. Kelly now is following in her son's footsteps as a Gainesville police officer. She wanted to help finish the job that Scott had started. She did it because she cared deeply about her son, and his legacy of law enforcement service.
Tomorrow at a luncheon, we will be honoring the Memorial Fund's Officers of the Month for 2008. They are a very impressive group of law enforcement professionals. All of their names are listed in your program. One of those officers is Melissa Foy, who serves with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, at the U.S. Penitentiary in Hazelton, Pennsylvania. On February 7, 2007, Senior Officer Foy came to the rescue of one of her colleagues who was being stabbed repeatedly by an inmate. Instinctively, and with little regard for her own safety, she quickly took the armed assailant down and restrained him until help arrived. Melissa Foy did not save her colleague to become a hero. She did it because she cared.
Madeline Neumann's husband, Keith, an Essex County, New Jersey, patrolman, was shot and killed during a drug raid 20 years ago. Madeline later remarried and is the proud mother of three beautiful children. Her family keeps her plenty busy — and happy — but still she continues to devote much of her time to helping other New Jersey survivors of fallen officers through her work with the Garden State Chapter of Concerns of Police Survivors. Recently, I complimented her on turning her tragedy into something very positive for herself and others. She responded by saying, "Keith did not have a choice about his life-it was taken from him. But I do have a choice and I want to make it the best and most meaningful life it can be." Madeline Neumann does all that she can to help other survivors because she cares.
Yes, the people we honor tonight . . . and the people gathered here tonight . . . truly do care about other people. Every year during National Police Week, we offer a special thanks to all members of the law enforcement community. We do so because of your selfless service, because of your supreme sacrifice, and because you care so much about other people. Our nation has no better role models than all of you.
You deserve this national monument that was built in your honor. And, the incredible and inspiring stories behind the names on these walls and the faces in this crowd need to be told for the sake of future generations. That is why we are now in the midst of building the first-ever National Law Enforcement Museum, which is scheduled to open right across the street in just a few short years.
The essence of this Memorial and that Museum is summed up by an inscription on these walls-words uttered by another very caring survivor, Vivian Eney Cross: "It is not how these officers died that made them heroes, it is how they lived."